Self assuredness: I’ll have what she has

Monday, January 25, 2021 Permalink

I’ve talked in the past about the difference between envy and jealousy and I tend to think the former feels less negative or nasty than the latter.

Recently however I’ve been pondering something in between. Not quite envy, but a wistfulness about something someone else does or has that we wish we did.

I get that ‘I’ll have what she has’ feeling about a few people.

It’s hard to describe but it’s more than confidence. A self-assuredness perhaps?

There’s someone I know of (but don’t know personally) who promotes the hell out of themselves and their business in a way that makes them sound like they’re the most successful person on the face of the earth. I know they aren’t, but can’t help but wonder how much of the (as yet fairly limited) success they’ve had has been some sort of self-fulfilling cycle or prophesy. People / potential clients assume they are as successful as they portray so hire them on the basis of that.

And then I had a conversation with the friend of a friend a few weeks ago. I was talking about options open to me after finishing my postgraduate study. Perhaps something in editing or publishing. I won’t / can’t move back to the city so it needs to be something I can do remotely. This friend does some editing work and asked why I don’t start now. I was horrified. “But I’m not ready yet! Why would anyone pay me? What if I made a mistake?” Yep, the horror was real.

The reason I don’t pursue contract work or freelancing isn’t necessarily a fear of failure or success. I’m not even sure it’s a fear of not being good enough or a lack of self-confidence. I think it’s one of self-assuredness.

self assuredness

Interestingly (and I’ve written about this too) that feeling has been limited to me putting myself out there in a way that seems self-promotional. It feels different when applying for a job. Someone else gets to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. It’s someone else’s decision whether I am – in fact – good enough.

However, recently my wavering confidence has started to permeate thoughts I’ve had about re-entering the professional world. ‘Suitable’ jobs are very hard to come by here. And THIS work-related dream has returned.

But… just last week a job was advertised locally. It pays a lot less than I used to earn but it sounds sufficiently challenging and interesting. And I was shocked that my immediately thought was, “I could do that!” In fact I thought the fit would be an excellent one.

Of course it’s unlikely I’ll even get shortlisted but… I was relieved because the lack of work options and way in which my last contract petered out really shook my confidence, so it’s amazing that I don’t seem to feel as redundant as I believed I did.

Do you envy those that seem to be full of confidence, even when you suspect they aren’t? Or (worse still) shouldn’t be? More importantly, am I a complete b*tch for even thinking someone doesn’t deserve to act as if they’re the cat’s whiskers or bee’s knees when…. they may not be. Or should we all be ‘faking it til we make it’?

* Image: Unsplash – Katrina Wright (@littleforestowl)

34 Comments
  • Jennifer Jones
    January 25, 2021

    How great your realisation is Deb that you’re not as redundant as you though. Applying for this job could be a first step towards self assuredness. I wish you all the luck in the world

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      Interestingly after there being nothing around for ages there are two – three things I can apply for at the moment. Some pay better than others and are more fulfilling but beggars, choosers….

  • T. M. Clark
    January 25, 2021

    Isn’t the old saying ‘Fake it till you make it’ ????? It’s really just confidence and self belief… and you need to booster yours. You CAN do it and WILL be brilliant! Good luck with that job and WHEN you are shortlisted and get the interview – go in there with your chin up and shoulders square! You got this Deb!!!!!!

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      Thanks Tina. I haven’t even had to do the application yet but there are a couple of other things as well. I’ve been feeling really unemployable of late and I suspect my age (etc) doesn’t help. I’d like to think my study could but outside of capital cities options are limited. I hoped that might change post-Covid and everyone working remotely but I’m not sure.

  • Vanessa
    January 25, 2021

    There’s a lot of nuance in all of this though. Fake it til you make it is fine to a degree if it helps you, and to me that degree is when you are outright lying. At the same time, we’re never “done” as humans and are always works in progress so when will you feel ok to go for something that you’re feeling “will I won’t I” towards.

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      Ha, yes… I’m reminded of one of Mark Manson’s blog posts in which he talks about young entrepreneurs / start-ups talking about how well they’re doing while living in their parents’ basement. I mean, as you say, there’s a fine line and I completely agree that people make sacrifices to get to where they want, but at what point does it become false promotion/advertising etc? And yes, we can ‘wait’ forever. I’m fairly sure I’ve already waited too long.

      • Vanessa
        January 25, 2021

        Or people who talk about turnover … meaningless. You can have a mythical 6 figure nonsense business and it be all turnover and zero profit.

  • leannelc
    January 25, 2021

    Hi Deb – I wrote about self-assurance and self-acceptance back in December. It’s something I feel lacking in too and my aim is to try to see myself in a more positive light and give myself the benefit of the doubt more. Like you, I’m very prone to self-criticism and hate seeing the fake “shiny” people out there selling themselves like they’re the next best thing since sliced bread (when in fact they’re just little fish swimming frantically in the big pond).

    I think I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m almost unemployable now – I just don’t want to work in a job that doesn’t interest me. However…..if I was in your shoes and saw a job like you’ve seen, I’d definitely jump in and apply for it – you’ve got to be in it to win it (much better than faking it til you’re making it) and it’s good to keep your hand in for applying for jobs etc. Good luck xx

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      On the first point Leanne, what I dislike most about myself is when I see people like that, I feel like giving up myself. I tell myself I can never do that – whether they’re really achieving anything or not – so why bother?

    • msomerville2014
      January 27, 2021

      Leanne, I need to go back and read those posts, because your response and Deb’s comments are like looking in a mirror. I don’t think I have ever been over confident and had my confidence badly shaken in a work experience in the fall that has taken me months to get over. And self promotion, I am excited when people read my blog, but I say very little about it on my personal Facebook page, because I suppose, I don’t want to be “that person” I wish I had more confidence, and I tend to bristle when I think some people are over-confident. Then I feel judgmental, or is it wise? Humility is a good balance. Michele

      • msomerville2014
        January 27, 2021

        Jumping back in, I thought I was just replying to Leanne’ comment on your post, but it is basically what I would have said to you Debbish. I can so relate, and I wish I could not. The question I ask myself, especially when I find myself reacting to people that I know personally, Is my reaction because I think they lack humility a nd are over confident, or is it because my confidence is so low? I do like the phrase self-assurance and you could substitute it there. So glad tht I stopped to read your post. Thanks and blessings, Michele

        • Debbish
          January 27, 2021

          Thanks Michele and I love both phrases. The word ‘confidence’ didn’t feel quite right as it implies a broad level of confidence I think, rather than that in a specific area of our lives.

          And yes, I’m too easily shattered (confidence-wise) in work scenarios. It’s usually when I think I’m doing okay and then I think I see signs that others think I’m not and then I start to doubt myself.

          • msomerville2014
            January 27, 2021

            It took several weeks and that with the encouragement of others. I am grateful, it could have been really devastating. So glad I read your post!

      • Debbish
        January 27, 2021

        Michele I know what you mean about feeling judgemental of others because that’s exactly how I feel but then I worry about that and wonder if I’m just feeling envious. Or, as you said, am I being wise to be more cynical?

  • Min Write of the Middle
    January 25, 2021

    I too envy those who present themselves will confidence and the illusion of success. I self sabotage every wonderful idea I have because I lack the confidence in myself. I think it’s another gremlin of menopause but there you go – it’s got me in its grips and it has stopped me achieving in ways I know I could have achieved. I hope you don’t let the gremlin get you too and that opportunities come your way that are perfect for you! xo

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      I know! I was just thinking the other day Min, of how when I arrived here 8yrs ago I wanted to approach businesses re managing their social media and I did send an email to some – like the big local shopping centre, suggesting what I could do… and now I see them doing heaps of stuff on social media and am a bit annoyed myself that I didn’t pursue any of that but I didn’t want to be seen as pushy or touting myself too much!

  • midlifestylist
    January 25, 2021

    I was talking to a friend about imposter syndrome and was shocked that she feels it as much as me. She has a Master’s Degree and has worked in that field for many years so I thought she would have a lot of confidence in her role. I do envy those with self confidence and I admire people who have it at a young age. Even with 30 years’ experience in my career, I still lack that!

    • Debbish
      January 25, 2021

      It’s something I struggle with. I was better for a while and – though I was hard on myself – I was able to objectively look at what I’d done / was doing and felt comfortable sharing that in job interviews and the like. But chasing business or opportunities for myself is a whole other matter for some reason.

      I think I grew up thinking self-confidence equated to arrogance and my father (in particular) was very strong in his perception of people who were overly confident. It’s interesting as he and my brother were high-achieving sportspeople but my dad used to harp on reminding us there was ALWAYS someone better and someone wanting to knock you off your perch. I know parenting in the last few decades has been very different – all about empowering kids (maybe too much so) but wonder if there’s some happy medium.

  • Sue from Women Living Well After 50
    January 25, 2021

    Oh I hear you loud and clear Deb because I feel exactly the same way. I have qualifications in Health and Life Coaching, Fitness Certification, plus other qualifications and because I can’t ‘sell’ myself I see others with less experience taking off in their businesses with no problem – because they have the self confidence that you speak of. You aren’t alone but go for it and believe in yourself. #lifethisweek

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2021

      True Sue and I think – cos of my long history in government and the need for ethical and objective procurement practices – I have this whole thing around needing to have the ability to prove that you are what you say or you will deliver it. Can I say I’m the best editor or writer ever? No. And I feel I need to tell people that. There are certainly people who could or will be better. Etc. #weird

  • rawsonjl
    January 25, 2021

    I have always envied people that seem to have such self-assurance as I rarely feel like I have any. I know I can be my own worst enemy and so judgmental of myself that I would be hard pressed to be tooting my own horn. Best of luck on the job hunt!

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2021

      I’m the same re self-criticism. And I think unless we’re delusional (or self-assured) we know our own worst faults and feel obliged (!!!) to focus on them even though they may not be a big deal or evident to others.

  • Natalie
    January 26, 2021

    Deb, I’ve seen some of the overtly and over-the-top self-promoted people. I’ve also met humbled, confident and very knowledgeable people. The former made me cringe and step away. The latter made me observe and want to have a conversation with them. It’s funny that the former group tends to be loud while the latter group is quietly smart.

    If you see a job that you’re interested in, apply, prepare the best you can, go for it, and believe in yourself. Also look out for or hang out with the quietly smart and self-confident people as often as possible, not just while job hunting but in general. They lift you up and boost your self-confidence level. #lifethisweek

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2021

      Oh yes, it’s lovely to be surprised by someone’s history or achievements, their intelligence or wit. Yet another thing I really dislike about myself is how – if I feel I’m being judged unfairly or perceived in a certain way – I feel obliged to ‘drop’ into the conversation that I was once a diplomat, or did this or that. And later I kick myself and ask WHY I couldn’t let it go. Let people perceive me how they want to!

  • Laurie
    January 26, 2021

    Hmmm…good questions, Deb. I AM a big believer in faking it until you make it. Have you ever watched the TED talk by Amy Cuddy? It actually might be worthwhile for you to watch if you are suffering from a lack of self-assurance. It is pretty long (maybe 20 minutes or so), but I used to show it to my students before science fair to help them gain self-confidence. She is a great speaker with a compelling story. It might be a good place to begin.

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2021

      Oh Laurie thanks. I’ll definitely watch the TED talk. I would certainly like to feel / be perceived as more confident in my abilities!

  • Jo
    January 26, 2021

    You know, I was only saying to Sares after we saw you the other week how in awe of you I was about your ability to network and approach people that time we were at conference together. I felt completely at sea and invisible and there was you seeming all self-assured. I so admired that.

    • Debbish
      January 26, 2021

      Interestingly I had something in there about whether the thing these self-assured people have is a sense of ‘presence’ or largeness of personality, but conscious I kind have those. Perhaps to others I do come across as more confident than I am. I’m certainly okay at networking and talking to strangers and that sort of thing. But I think I balk at ‘selling’ myself.

      • Jo
        January 26, 2021

        I know what you mean – I can’t sell myself but need to get over myself…

  • Denyse Whelan Blogs
    January 27, 2021

    I have just had insight from your words into your “why”…..and it’s what you wrote about as the standards you and your brother were held to by your father. I have taken a lot longer than you, because, I am MUCH older, to find my confidence that is true and from within.

    I can fake till I make it, I can speak to an audience of hundreds, i managed and lead large school communities and loved most of it most of the time. I’ve been filmed and on TV. What I found hard was someone challenging me personally about something and I would lose it…not in front of them, but it set me back.

    I don’t think we might see males doing that. I have been a bit different to many of my era and so glad I WAS encouraged by my father to study and graduate to teach.

    He now tells me I am so much stronger than he has ever been because of how I overcame so much of my mouth cancer struggles. Interestingly it just surprised me for a minute and then I totally agreed. I have been what he said.

    I reckon if you could write some of your conversations you would want to have with your father you just might see inklings of what is holding you back now. Because something is…

    End of lecture…soz

    Thank you for linking up this week for #lifethisweek. Great to see you and your blog here! Next week it’s about #sharingoursnaps and that’s an optional prompt. Join in each week for a friendly connection in a great community on-line. I am very grateful to you all. Denyse.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2021

      I guess my dad’s main messages were about not getting too big a head. Or becoming arrogant. In retrospect it probably didn’t really allow us to celebrate success or have a moment to feel self-satisfied or proud because he’d be there to remind us someone else would soon ‘better’ our achievement or beat us or similar. I realise of course he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder and some regrets about his own sporting career. He left school as soon as he possibly could (at 14 or earlier) so didn’t receive as much education and held blue collar jobs. We didn’t really know many people with white collar / professional jobs so I’m not sure he felt insecure in that way, but I like to think he was ultimately content with his life.

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    January 27, 2021

    I feel like you’re talking about imposter syndrome there. It is a hard one but at the same time, one of the things I’ve learnt is you have to give it a shot and what’s the worst that could happen? You don’t get the job/freelance gig etc. But until we try, we don’t really know.

    • Debbish
      January 28, 2021

      True re me. I just wish I could be less judgemental about others who have the bravado to do it!!!!

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